NEUTRALITY has been defined as the legal status arising from the abstention of a state from all participation in a war be tween other states, the maintenance by it of an attitude of im partiality in its dealings with the belligerent states, and the rec ognition by the latter of this abstention and impartiality. From this legal status arise the rights and duties of neutral and belliger ent states respectively. Under the conception of absolute sov ereignty prevalent before the World War one state might go to war with another for a good or bad reason, or for no reason at all, and a violation of international law by one state was regarded as no concern of any other, except that immediately affected by such violation. With the creation of the League of Nations, how ever, a new conception arose. The League is based upon inter national solidarity, hence neutrality and a League of Nations are mutually exclusive. In the next war, said President Wilson, there will be no neutrals. But the League is not yet universal. The United States and Russia, to mention only the most important, are not members ; and even among members the Covenant of the League fails to prohibit neutrality in all circumstances. Conse quently the legal status of neutrality still retains an important place in international law.
belligerents not to interfere with the commercial intercourse of its subjects, unless such interference is warranted by International Law.
In 1780 Russia issued a declaration of neutral rights, to which Sweden and Denmark adhered, which became known as the First Armed Neutrality. Spain, France, Holland and the United States.— all in a state of war with Great Britain—Prussia, Austria, Portu gal and the two Sicilies, subsequently joined the league. The object of this declaration was to limit the list of contraband com modities. In 1800 Russia with Denmark, Prussia and Sweden formed the Second Armed Neutrality, the object of which was to exempt from visit and search neutral merchantmen under convoy. Duties of Neutral States.—The primary duty of a neutral state is strict impartiality in its relations with both belligerents, whether such impartial conduct is obligatory or discretionary. There must not be any discrimination or preference. Even a favour granted to one must be extended to the other. A neutral state must not allow a belligerent to move troops, munitions of war or supplies across its territory or to erect or use therein wireless or other telegraphic apparatus for military purposes. It must intern belligerent forces which have taken refuge in its ter ritory, but may leave at liberty escaped prisoners of war and per mit the passage of the sick and wounded belonging to the belliger ent forces (Hague Convention V., 1907). It must not allow any act of war, including the exercise of visit and search or capture, to be committed by a belligerent within its territorial waters. It must release a prize so captured with its officers and crew and intern the prize crew. It must not allow a prize court to be established on its territory nor on a vessel within its terri torial waters. It must not allow either belligerent to use territory or territorial waters as a base of military operations against its adversary, nor may it furnish either belligerent with troops, ships, munitions of war, money or with commodities of direct or in direct use in the war. It must use due diligence in preventing the fitting out or arming of vessels within its jurisdiction and the departure of vessels intended to engage in hostile operations ; the issue of commissions by either belligerent or the enlistment of men (Hague Convention, XIII., 1907, the Neutrality Act, 1818 U.S.A. and the Foreign Enlistment Act, 1870, Vict. C. 90).